Smooth Sailing

The ebb and flow of ministry doesn't need to swamp your marriage.

It seemed to be a match made in heaven. Wendy had grown up on the mission field and dreamed of being a minister's wife since she was a little girl. I grew up as a PK loving the church, and I sensed a call to ministry by the age of 12. I'd envied my parents' mutual involvement in the congregation and prayed God would give me a wife with whom I could be a partner in ministry.

God answered both prayers. As newlyweds in our first church, Wendy and I looked for ways we could minister side by side. It wasn't hard. I discipled the husbands; Wendy counseled their wives. Together we led a weekly Bible study. We entertained church leaders and new members in our home, sharing in the planning, cooking and cleanup. We loved each other. We loved our congregation. We loved our identity as a ministry couple.

Soon, however, we discovered that, while the flood of pastoral demands could irrigate the work of ministry, they could also drown our marriage. Fortunately, we found some points at which we could regulate the flow.

We take up separate hobbies outside the church.

Wendy turned to gardening; I took up photography. Getting outdoors and celebrating the splendor of creation not only took our minds off the church; it filled each of us with joy that we could share with each other.

We protect our days off and spend them together.

Sunday may be holy, but Monday is sacred to us. Sleep in. Enjoy a cup of coffee. Leisurely read the paper. Go for a long walk. Plant flowers. Take pictures. Go antique hunting. Linger over lunch at a favorite restaurant. This was easier before kids, but when babies came we took them along. As much as we loved the church, we needed the routine of simple pleasures that had nothing to do with ministry.

We create fun traditions in our home.

Wendy and I decided to celebrate holidays and special days in ways that were unique to us. We decorate the house and have special menus for Valentine's Day, Academy Awards night, the Fourth of July and Santa Lucia Day. We have even created our own family holiday: July 31st commemorates the day 35 years ago when my parents moved our family to our new hometown. And don't even try to schedule a church board meeting on one of the special days we observe in our home!

We return to our roots regularly.

Wendy and I both have wonderful families — we want to spend time with them! But throughout our marriage we have lived far away from our parents and siblings. So we have determined to visit our respective hometowns during vacations. Thus, every year we trek to places where we are known and loved, apart from our professions. Those times remind us of who we are as real people.

Taken from Pastor's Family Bulletin, September 1999.
Article copyright © 2003, Greg Asimakoupoulos.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

Greg Asimakoupoulos is currently the senior pastor of Mercer Island Covenant Church in suburban Seattle. He has spent nearly 20 years as a local church pastor in Washington, California and Illinois. From 1997 to 2002, he was also director of creative communication for Mainstay Ministries in Wheaton, Ill. Since then, he has pursued a ministry of writing, speaking and broadcasting. He has been married to his wife, Wendy, for over 20 years. They have three young adult daughters: Kristin, Allison and Lauren.